Springer Nature, one of the world's largest scientific publishers, has officially retracted a journal article that claimed to find no substantial evidence of a climate crisis.
The article, authored by four Italian physicists, appeared in the European Physical Journal Plus in January 2022, a publication not typically associated with climate change research. The contentious article gained traction among climate sceptic groups and was later reported without critical examination by the Australian newspaper and Sky News Australia.
The study's authors asserted that their analysis of data failed to reveal any discernible trends in extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and food productivity. They concluded that the widely acknowledged climate crisis was not evident based on their observational data. However, climate scientists from various quarters accused the article of misrepresenting scientific studies, being biased, and selectively presenting data to fit a predetermined narrative.
Prompted by these criticisms, Springer Nature initiated a comprehensive investigation, including a post-publication review by subject matter experts, into the article. The authors also submitted an addendum to their original work during this process. After careful consideration, the publishers and editors concluded that they could no longer support the conclusions presented in the article.
“After careful consideration and consultation with all parties involved, the editors and publishers concluded that they no longer had confidence in the results and conclusions of the article,”
The retraction note attached to the article states that concerns were raised about the selection of data, analysis methods, and final conclusions. These concerns, along with the results of the post-publication review, led the editors to lose confidence in the study's findings. While the article remains available for download, each page now bears the watermark "RETRACTED ARTICLE." According to the journal's records, the article was accessed approximately 92,000 times.
Springer Nature acknowledged the need to uphold the highest standards of integrity in published content and expressed a commitment to preventing similar issues in the future. The publisher also indicated plans to enhance oversight of editors and guest editors to ensure adherence to publication policies and best practices.
Notably, some authors of the retracted article have exhibited climate scepticism in the past. One lead author, nuclear physicist Prof Gianluca Alimonti, had previously suggested a lack of consensus among climate scientists regarding human-induced global warming. This stance contradicts multiple studies indicating overwhelming agreement among climate scientists on the role of human activity in climate change. The incident underlines the ongoing challenges of ensuring rigorous peer review and maintaining the scientific integrity of published research.
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